Is viral just vanity when it comes to social media?


POSTED ON 4th March 2020

Recently one of our clients had an Instagram post “go viral”. Out of the blue, a post that had content that was very relevant to some major current events at the time took off and received close to 30,000 likes, new followers that month tripled compared to the normal rate.

Viral content is seen to be somewhat of a “holy grail” when it comes to social media marketing and can really help a brand take off.  However, much of it depends on the whims of Instagram’s algorithm and how “newsworthy” or relevant the post is based on what people are liking and engaging with at the time.

Whilst I’m not sure that I agree 100% with Lori’s quote here, I agree that sometimes just because something is popular, it doesn’t mean it’s effective.

Understanding why you are posting

To measure effectiveness, you first need to define what your overall goal is. For the vast majority of the businesses who work with us, they are using Instagram for two key reasons:

  1. To build awareness. 
  2. To drive action that creates a business outcome.

How well did it drive awareness?

So, in the case of our viral post – let’s look at how effective it was in terms of the first goal – building awareness.

With a gain of new followers triple the rate of previous months, you would have to argue that the viral post kicked that goal out of all the ballpark. 

So, a key learning from this might be that leveraging current trends and topics (in an appropriate fashion) to draw attention to your brands and products is a very effective strategy when it comes to boosting your content in the feed and obtaining new likes.

How well did it drive action for the business?

With circa 30,000 likes, how well did the post drive action? The post didn’t have any call to action or relate to any “link in bio”. So, it could be argued that 30,000 likes in this case were largely wasted. 

Because Instagram requires the user to scroll up to the profile, click on the bio link and then often click on another link to get to a website page to buy, download, vote, sign or whatever it is you want done, I would say it was at the least a wasted opportunity.

So, a key learning from this might be that to truly make the most of a potentially viral post, a quickly put together post in response to a something that is very current and topical should always be thought through in terms of business outcomes. Where is the opportunity to drive some sort of result for the business beyond likes or follows?

If you are gaining followers, are they the ones that are likely to stick? Was the viral post highly relevant to your brand and your offering?

While everyone loves the likes, it’s important to take a step back and evaluate just how effective it is for your business. As we know, maintaining a strong and effective social media presence take significant time and resources, so it’s important to make sure it’s delivering real results for your business.

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